Naperville gun shop owner says he’s prepared to take on the state over ban on semi-automatic weapons sales

A gun shop owner challenging Naperville’s ban on assault rifles vows he will fight a new state law that immediately prohibits the sale of semi-automatic firearms and high-capacity magazines.

Robert Bevis, owner of Law Weapons & Supply, who joined forces with the National Association for Gun Rights in suing the city over its legislation, said they are now preparing a federal lawsuit challenging Illinois’ comprehensive firearms legislation signed this week by Gov. J.B. Pritzker, he said.

They also plan to seek an injunction that would allow the sale of banned weapons and ammunition to continue while the case goes through court, Bevis said.

“We are very confident we’ll get a restraining order,” he said.

Illinois’ new law is “detrimental” to his 1539 N, Aurora Road business because 90% of the firearms he sells fall in the banned category.

Even though Naperville’s sales prohibition hasn’t gone into effect yet, Bevis said he’s seen a 30% drop in sales, a decrease he attributes to customers being scared off by the city’s ordinance.

Naperville’s ban on assault rifle sales is in limbo until a federal judge decides if can go into effect or should be shelved until the legal challenge from Bevis and the gun rights group is decided in court. In a Dec. 9 order, the city agreed not to enforce the ordinance until U.S. District Judge Virginia Kendall issues a ruling.

Mayor Steve Chirico said the state law appears to be aligned very closely with what Naperville already has done.

“I suspect there’ll be a similar challenge. But that certainly would be helpful, I think in my view at least, to have the state fighting the same fight that we’re fighting,” Chirico said.

He added it’s his assumption state law would supersede anything the city has on the books.

Although Naperville’s ordinance prohibits the sale of certain semi-automatic rifles within city limits, the Illinois law is more comprehensive and includes a ban on the sale of large capacity ammunition magazines of more than 10 rounds for long guns and 15 rounds for handguns and the sale of switches that convert firearms into semi-automatic or automatic weapons.

The new law also extends the time length for firearms restraining orders sought by relatives or police to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals, increasing it from from six months to 12.

People who already own semi-automatic rifles can keep them, but will be required to register their ownership, according to the new law.

State Rep. Jane Yang Rohr, D-Naperville, said gun violence has touched the lives of families in the Naperville community and across the state.

“Even the safest town lives under the constant fear of knowing a weapon designed for the battlefield could be at a parade, a school, a movie theater, or a church,” she said in a news release.

Input from gun violence victims, leading experts in firearms and gun safety, and law enforcement agencies was part of the process in creating the newly approved legislation, she said. The goal was to save lives without impacting the rights of lawful gun owners and law-abiding Illinoisans, she said.

Pritzker issued a statement after signing the bill, saying he, his administration and colleagues in the state Capitol have been battling the National Rifle Association to push through the strongest and most effective gun violence legislation possible.

“I couldn’t be prouder to say that we got it done. And we will keep fighting — bill by bill, vote by vote and protest by protest — to ensure that future generations only hear about massacres like Highland Park, Sandy Hook, and Uvalde in their textbooks,” he said.